There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” Issac Asimov
Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously. G.K. Chesterton
We were camping and had gone on a day hike. On the return, we realized we hadn’t been paying attention and did not know where we were exactly. Misplaced, but not lost. However, my friend and I disagreed about where camp was, thinking it was exactly in opposite directions. Time was an issue as it was going dark and we’d not been smart enough to bring jackets, flashlights, or matches (we were experienced campers who had bungled what to take on a day hike). My friend was just going to go the way he wanted. I didn’t get it and I couldn’t do it. Going separate ways in such a situation is way dicey. But separate we did. I went with reference points by backtracking. He went on the way he wanted. After a spell, he realized he was going in the wrong direction and turned around and headed cross country in the opposite direction. Meanwhile, my backtracking, which took longer but was surer, got me to camp a couple of minutes after he said he did. On my own, I would have been lucky to find camp without reference points. He didn’t claim luck, but he did say, correctly, that he managed to walk right to camp.
It is one thing to mis-perceive objective reality and behave as though it was objective reality. It’s another thing entirely, to hang onto the mis-perception and not do some reconfiguring. My friend was turned around, but not crazy. He realized his error and did an about-face.
We seem to be living in Nutsville, folks going in very much opposite directions from sobriety, yet thinking they’ve got it right. We cannot stick a landing on Mars, as recently happened, with such delusion. Personally, I am profoundly distraught by this state of affairs—the effect seems to be pulling us apart, something I think many would like to see. We can’t just make shit up—shit that has zero to do with any configuration of objective reality. It’s nuts to think free speech is the same for everyone. Folks who have taken an oath of office have pledged to obey and uphold certain percepts. Not upholding that oath and those precepts is something that can get one removed. It is nuts to accuse folks of promoting a “cancel culture” while claiming the last election was stolen. The earth ain’t flat, we did go to the moon, vaccines are not manufactured to alter our DNA towards zombie-ism, liberals are not simply “sheepeople,” conservatives are not simply “walled off,” the current pandemic, both the virus and the political climate, are not fake, fringe groups may feel disenfranchised, but they ain’t fine groups, and so on. If any of those are positions to which you belong, you ain’t canceled, you’re called out.
Nonetheless, however nuts one is, they must be welcomed back from Nutsville if they so choose. We do not need a state of affairs that promotes whacko perspectives, nor do we need to remove asylum from the desperate. This is not an amusement ride for the simple reason it is not amusing or entertaining, it is a very dangerous ride in the opposite direction of sanity.
And no, I’m not the keeper of the gate and I do not do well without objective reference points. I’m not so likely to wander off and around and know where I am. But, like my friend, if you are, fine. If you’ve goofed up and can find your way back without reference points, fine. It will be a relief for all.
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